Saturday, 30 March 2013

The dream of a pedestal free world

The osteopath with his niggling back problems, the dentist with tooth decay, the teacher of relaxation who has difficulty sleeping at night - each with skills and expertise AND each just as vulnerable as the next person to stress and health issues.
Be careful not to put someone with "expertise" on a pedestal, if they fall, you might too. Your reality shaken to the core when the expert falls ill, "If they can't sort themselves out, what hope is there for me?!"
Being more informed through training or by passing a set of exams does mean the expert is armed with the facts, will that mean they apply all that they know to their own life?  Not necessarily.
The moment we think we are separate, either in a lesser or greater way than another, we have lost the connection with the truth that is - we are all the same.
Be loving and gentle to yourself and have the humility to recognise the vulnerability in every one of us.
"A pedestal is as much a prison as any small, confined space." - Gloria Steinem
"Don't put me on a pedestal, for I am sure to fall. Just love me as I am, flaws and all." - Author unknown

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Listen! It's peace calling!

Surely the greatest gift we can hope for others, and ourselves is to be able to feel a sense of peace and contentment radiating from our core.  From time to time, but not often enough I get glimmers of that peacefulness.  I know that within each of us we have that peace and contentment nestled there all the time - mostly ignored - it just waits patiently for our return.
The headminds response to life experiences wraps us up in the hustle and bustle, like an overprotective mother clutching a bundled up duvet to cover her child, dampening down our ability to feel where that peaceful place has gone.  Faster and faster the layers pile on, thicker and thicker they form a muffler to that internal peace-filled core, while amplifying all the chaos from the outside world.
I gave myself a talking to today.
Then I sat on my meditation stool and allowed that peaceful place to take centre stage. For all of us peace should have the leading role, not a walk on part.
"If you cannot find peace within yourself, you will never find it anywhere else." - Marvin Gaye

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Health, wealth & happiness

There is a distorted belief that when it comes to health, wealth and happiness there is an optimum, or perfect level to each, which, if reached leaves us free-wheeling through the remainder of our lives, a traffic free, downhill run on the smoothest of roads.
So, we search and search maintaining a deep rooted belief that at some point we'll find, "it!"
Look up at the sky and just observe all that you see.  Hundreds, probably thousands of people will look up at their sky today, wondering, questioning, crying, pleading, asking.
Our health, the ability to appreciate the beauty that is our functioning, effective body with all it's chemical and mechanical complexities.
Our wealth, not simply the monetary value enabling us to provide food and shelter for ourselves and those we love,  the rich asset that is our knowledge and emotional awareness.
Our happiness, not the hollow laughter of an egotistical hedonist, but the quiet joy of being here now - happiness at being part of a family, having friends, an appreciation of all that we are in this world.
Stop striving to find the elusive key to something that is already here with you right now.
"Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship." - Buddha
"Wealth is the ability to fully experience life." - Henry David Thoreau
"Happiness depends on ourselves." - Aristotle

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Being held back by beliefs

The trouble with belief is that at some point it will be challenged. No matter if the belief is about your spiritual leaning, your understanding of yourself, or your belief about what motivates another person - try keeping your beliefs as open and flexible as possible.
Stay rigid and you risk snapping as a boulder rolls on to the tight rope of belief you are walking. By maintaining a softer more pliable stance, keeping your heart and mind open you will be far better equipped to stay on your path, no matter if there are times when you question your belief. There's no shame in changing your mind - in fact it's the only way to keep growing!
"It is not disbelief that is dangerous in our society, it is belief." - George Bernard Shaw
"If you don't change your beliefs, your life will be like this forever. Is that good news?" - W. Somerset Maugham

Friday, 15 March 2013

Keeping afloat

As I swim I push the invisible force of the water to one side. Bit by bit I move through the water gradually reaching the other side of the pool. Stroke by stroke and by applying a certain amount of effort I ensure I don't sink. Living is a lot like swimming. There may be what seems like "invisible" forces making your journey feel like an enormous effort. Tread water for a moment, better still stop making it such hard work and just float. Let the water support you while you decide if there's another way for you to continue on your journey. Sometimes it may feel like you're sinking. Life can support, just as a floatation aid can keep you buoyant in water. Do what you need to do to stay afloat. Find whatever it is that supports you, talking to friends and loved ones, yoga, prayer, being out in nature - reach out to whatever resonates with you.
"A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down." - Arnold H. Glasgow

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Defining restrictions

To attempt to define water is like trying to explain the Universe in one sentence.
Water is a life source we all depend on, it can also take lives and devastate whole landscapes, washing away homes and livelihoods.
It is rain, clouds, a raging white water river, a calm lake, H2O, ice cubes, and the hot water that makes a cup of tea.
You are as diverse as the water and the Universe.
I feel sad when I listen to the self limiting definitions individuals use to describe their own understanding of themselves.
At this moment, there will be aspects of your life including,your job, relationship, family situation, financial status or popularity within the community that are true and accurate to your life right now. Is it by those "external" factors you define yourself? Do you really believe those things fully define who you are?
I'd like you to add another skill to your daily routine which may help you realise another aspect of yourself. Start practising mindfulness through meditation, yoga or breathing exercises. Being still, allowing peaceful "non-active" moments in your day will start to re-balance what you may currently hold as important in defining you with a much bigger, broader picture with less defined boundaries. In time a shift may occur enabling you to gently let go of those old beliefs about your identity. Mindfulness helps you enjoy the peaceful times, and with practise you can access that place anytime. Care less about how you have chosen to define yourself, take off that mask and celebrate all that makes you the complex being that you are!

"We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that in the end we become disguised to ourselves." - Francois de La Rochefoucauld.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Music and therapy

When my piano teacher gives me a new tune to play she always has me playing the right hand first, getting familiar with the melody before introducing the left hand.  Her expression is, "learn it separately THEN together!"  My daughter Emily was teaching me a tune on the m'bira recently, and she said, "I'm only going to show you the left hand, you have to know that piece before I show you what the right hand plays!"  So another, "separately THEN together" situation.  The music only sounds right, and feels good once you get both hands playing the whole piece as was the intention when the music was created by the composer.
As a result, when I start playing a new piece I can feel quite frustrated and struggle with imagining how it will ultimately sound when I'm finally able to put it all together.
I can definitely draw a parallel in relation to learning a new piece of music and meeting someone for the first time. Initially, the person is slightly guarded and only willing to share a small part of themselves.  That one piece is usually a long way from the whole story.  Patience is required by me to ensure I get a complete understanding of what brings someone to see me in my role as a therapist. A new client will often start by telling me individual, separate stories and experiences they have had, and in time I can put a fuller picture together enabling me to give them the support they need.  
There would be no point, in fact it would probably be quite detrimental to our relationship, if I said to them on their first session, "I need to hear everything NOW so I can get on with teaching you how to get well!"  Just as I can't play my right and left hand together on the piano when I'm first presented with a new piece of music..bit by bit, step by step as my confidence grows in my playing I can enjoy the tune and really be absorbed in the tone and feeling of the piece, a client will only fully embrace sharing and learning in a therapeutic setting when they are ready.
Before a client comes to see me they have been separate and often isolated, hiding all their fears and worries from the outside world.  Together, with support, guidance and commitment from both client and therapist, a healthy, enjoyable life is attainable.
The music is already composed and hoping to be played as beautifully as was intended by the composer.  
I am ready to support the client as soon as they feel able to share all that needs to be shared.  
"Patience is the companion of wisdom." - Saint Augustine
"All great achievements require time." - Maya Angelou

Monday, 4 March 2013

Lovingly trying to control

It's hard not to get frustrated when someone you care about isn't taking responsibility for their own health - either through naivety of the seriousness of their symptoms, or perhaps they do have an understanding of what's going on and are simply choosing to bury their heads in the sand.
Whatever the reason, at some point you have to stop and try to understand that their journey belongs to them - and you are on your own path - sharing just some of the journey with them.
Ultimately we can only make our own choices and decisions for ourselves, we cannot persuade or manipulate another into doing what WE think is right for them.
At times clients tell me their loved one thinks they are "a control freak" for nagging them into going to the Dr's or having a check up.  This type of "controlling" is often borne out of desperation, that sense of needing to know their loved one has the best information regarding their health, in the hope they then make the best decision.
Being called a control freak often conjures up very negative connotations - but in fact in many cases the need to control is based on a fear of loss. The loss of someone who is cared about very much. So if you have a partner who is nagging you, stop for a moment and think about why they are so determined to have you checked out. Maybe your loved one just wants to make sure you can spend even more time enjoying this journey together.
"Most of us can read the writing on the wall; we just assume it's addressed to someone else." - Ivern Ball
"A man sooner or later discovers that he is the master gardener of his soul, the director of his life." - James Allen

Saturday, 2 March 2013

The guise of the cruel eccentric

Throughout history eccentric men and women have made it into the history books for all sorts of reasons.  Eccentrics certainly brighten up the mundane day to day drudgery and can bring colour to the greyness of our lives, giving us all a reason to smile.
At times however, there is a darker side which I feel needs to be spoken about and not politely ignored.  I have noticed time and time again that we have a tendency to enable some eccentrics to be rude, nasty, cruel even, shrugging their behaviour off by saying, "Oh well, she's a bit mad! She's such an eccentric!"  
Being eccentric is absolutely fine - but if we observe someone being unkind to a fellow man, eccentric or not, it's not okay. We should celebrate and love our individuality. Expressing ourselves and getting our needs met is an essential part of being healthy, but not by using cruelty or bullying techniques dismissed as acceptable under the guise of eccentricity.
We are all human, we all have vulnerabilities and we should walk gently through this life, leaving only the mark of warmth and kindness on those we have met.
"It is very sad to me that some people are so intent on leaving their mark on the world that they don't care if that mark is a scar." - John Green
"No love, no friendship can cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark on it forever." - Francois Mauriac